Wayne Arthurson brings to light the wild and raucous history of our province as told through the eyes of the weekly community newspaper. On December 6, 1880, after the printing press had been brought overland from Winnipeg in a Red River cart, publisher Frank Oliver put out the first newspaper of any kind to be solely written, edited, and printed in Alberta. Alberta was still a quarter century from becoming a province and Edmonton was just a scattered group of settlements around a Hudson’s Bay Company fort.
Later, joined by weeklies across the province, these newspapers were the voice of the new West, touting the region’s superiority. During two world wars, community papers brought immediate and personal news about the heroism of our young men on the battlefields of Europe as well as news about the many who died or were wounded. When the Spanish flu pandemic savaged Alberta communities, killing more than half the numbers killed in the Great War, the weekly newspapers kept the communities informed. And when “Bible Bill” Aberhart’s Social Credit party tried to muzzle the press with the Accurate News and Information Act in 1937, Alberta weeklies roared out and garnered support from news media around the world.